NORTHERN Grampians Shire Council has changed its Tourism Industry Participation Policy to provide tourism operators, businesses and tourism associations with clearer and more equitable guidelines.

Businesses that council classes as attractions will now automatically receive level two services.

Level two services include having brochures displayed in visitor information centres, inclusion on council’s tourism website, access to discounted workshops and access to familiarisation tours.

As part of the review, the annual fee for businesses to secure level two services will be cut from $600 to $150.

Council removed an option for businesses to do 10 hours of volunteer work in lieu of the fee.

Cr Ray Hewitt said the changes made the policy more efficient.

“Before these changes being made, there was some confusion as to what constituted ‘acceptable’ volunteer activity and whether the work being done was encouraging active development of tourism as an industry sector,” he said.

“The removal of volunteer hours will eliminate this confusion and decrease the additional administrative burden on staff.”

Cr Hewitt said council reduced the annual fee to make it a more accessible option for businesses.

“We believe the changes are warranted and will greatly improve the way the Tourism Industry Participation Policy operates within our shire,” he said.

Cr Hewitt said all Northern Grampians Shire businesses automatically received level one services and benefits such as the Business Assistance Scheme and access to professional advice and support.

He said businesses could access level two services by being classified as an attraction by council, becoming a member of a business or tourism association or paying the annual tourism services fee.

Council adopted the Tourism Industry Participation Policy in February 2010 to encourage business owners and operators to actively contribute to the shire’s tourism industry.

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